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Memorialised pain, forgotten future – Sharpeville youth's hunger for development

Six decades since the tragic massacre, the youth of Sharpeville say they feel underrated and forgotten, but guidance and mentoring has allowed them to dream beyond the shackles of their community's past.

Young man walks past mural in Sharpeville on the eve of a sombre Human Rights Day in 2020. Commemorations of this holiday were cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – As more time passes since the Sharpeville massacre where 69 people were gunned down by apartheid police, some in the area are still working hard to rebuild the traumatised community.

Saturday marks 60 years since the killings which shook South Africa and beyond – leaving a mark on Sharpeville that has brought it both joy and heartache.

On any day, a visit to Sharpeville reveals nothing spectacular – until you meet its people.

They feel underrated and this, you soon discover, is because they do not live up to the expectation of many because – despite their history – they are unlikely to have a predisposition towards politics.

Instead, their interest appears to be in reimagining the township, which currently struggles with high rates of unemployment and crime.

Twenty-eight-year-old Tshwarelo Lerata is an aspiring businessman and has found in Sharpeville more than he could ever have hoped for.

“That is where I saw the opportunity of starting my own business, but then I needed a coach or a mentor, and I knew Ntate Sehanka.”

Mmotseng Motsamai shared the sentiments.

“He motivates me every time, he always directs us to the right path. Whenever we come across a challenge, he always gives us advice.”

The young men’s experiences share a common thread mainly because they are both being mentored by Sharpeville philanthropist Andrew Sehanka.

Together, they dream of a Sharpeville that is development driven despite its blood-soaked past.